There was a time when I used to hate the sound of Bob Dylan’s words clanging through my bedroom wall as my brother played that whinging rasping voice full blast to drown out my Wham beats.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Last year, I treated my brother to a Bob Dylan concert in Dublin, and I sang along and loved that whinging raspy voice. Times changed.
There was a time when my Mum was my anchor that I could swim away from, safe that I could always find my way home. Her Stroke cast me adrift, but I have learned to swim strong and true and find new places to call home.
There was a time when my babies were babies and I wondered if I’d ever emerge from the double buggy years. But now my babies are growing faster than I like and the buggies are gone and they walk beside me. I will always be pushing them on as I did when I stood behind those prams, but I will always be pulling them back just for one more cuddle before they stride off ahead of me.
There was a time when Grief tied his leg to mine and I limped around like a three-legged runner unable to shake the soreness. But I have found a way to untie his leg, and now he just potters in the background, always there, but only sticking his leg out occasionally to trip me up. I am learning to step over him when I see him, but I’ve also learned to sometimes just sit down beside him and have a chat. Acknowledge he is there but not let him lead me anymore.
There was a time when I thought my new family would be secure and safe forever. But now I’ve had to readjust and build a new new family of just me and the girls. Times have changed but we will always be safe and secure forever.
There was a time when all I ever dreamt of was being an author and seeing my name on a book in a bookshop. On the 11th February next year, my first book will appear on shelves and I might possibly wet myself.
I sometimes go running in my local park, and beyond the main section, and all the football pitches and walkways is a little forest. It has an earthen path and the trees rise up along each side and their branches flutter in the wind, forming a sort of guard of honour as I pant past. I love running through that wood with the sounds of the stream trickling alongside. And in that wood there is a tree. I call it ‘My Tree’. Like spaghetti on a plate, it has roots spaying out all around it, clutching deeply into the ground. Its trunk is solid and marked with time and weather. Sprouting from it are solid branches and from them smaller branches and then thin branches and from all of them leaves that hang on tight and make it so big and detailed. That tree is always changing, and yet it is always the same. In autumn it astounds me with its glowing colours of sun and gold. In winter it stands bare but coolly defiant against the chilling winds. In spring it sprouts with green and promise and in summer it glistens as the sun glitters through the gaps in its leaves. Its beauty always makes me stop.
I just stop and gaze at it, and it always, always makes me feel better. It gives me my moment and for some reason always makes me feel grateful. Because it reminds me of me. I am the trunk, but I am just the middle piece. I have deep-rooted beginnings and branches that sway into my future. All separate parts but all connected. I am mother, I am daughter, but sandwiched between the two, I am me, weathered and craggy but damn it, glorious and strong, always changing, always growing. I am finally starting to blossom. In reaching the middle of my life, I am becoming the woman I always wanted to be, and the woman I was always meant to be.
There was a time as a hungry teenager, an intrepid 20 year old, an ambitious 30 year old that I wanted everything perfect and NOW! But as a weathered, craggy but damn it, glorious and strong middle-life embracing woman, I know that everything is flux, everything is flow. Times are always a changin’ and I am always time travelling. But I don’t need a machine because life is a time machine. We are constantly travelling – yearning for the past, letting go of the past, reaching for the future, keeping the future at bay, whizzing past the present, trying to acknowledge the present.
Times are a changin’ and I’m trying to keep swimming.